Sun, 02 Feb 2003

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Online resources on the holdiay

Ellen Whyte, Columnist, Malaysia,

Chinese New Year is one of my favorite holidays but I'm still unfamiliar with some of the traditions. This can prove embarrassing. The first time some friends invited me to celebrate the New Year with them, my host asked me to keep my shoes on rather than leave them in their customary place at the front door.

I thought it was some sort of ancient custom in the spirit of "keep on your shoes at New Year and you will be well shod (i.e. rich) for the whole year". No such thing! The beer delivery staff was about to descend on us and my host knew they are notorious for trampling all over everyone's best shoes.

Since then I've gathered together a list of online resources that have helped me bone up on the proper customs. It disappoints my friends who are amused by my foolish theories but it makes me feel less of a chump. If you too wish to learn more about Chinese New Year, the following sites provide excellent starting points.

* About Chinese New Year

Chinatown Chinese New Year at www.chinatown- describes Chinese New Year customs, taboos and beliefs, as well as the history behind the traditional lion dance that is performed around this time, the role of the Kitchen Gods, the meaning of fortune cookies, the symbolism of the red packets called Ang Pow and the significance of the flowers presented during this time.

This site also includes recipes for preparing two symbolic dishes: Yau Gwok, the crescent-shaped biscuit that represents the traditional Chinese Tael, or gold ingot, and the sesame biscuits called Jin Dui that signal prosperity. In addition there is a small horoscope section describing your fortune for the coming year as well as a variety of free virtual greeting cards.

Chinese New Year at is quite an old site that hasn't been updated for some time now, but it has excellent basic articles describing the customs, food and decorations that make this event so special. I really enjoyed the section called "Taboos and Superstitions of Chinese New Year", which described how to choose the right time to leave the house and visit friends, why you should spring clean before the festival and what to wear when you do go out.

* Horoscopes

Feb. 1 is the start of the Chinese New Year. Unlike other years this one is described under slightly different guises as the Year of the Black Water Sheep, the Year of the Black Water Ram and the Year of the Black Water Goat. It is at this time of year that many people eagerly consult their horoscope to discover if the next 12 months will be prosperous.

If you know what your Chinese astrological sign is, go straight to Shelly Wu's Horoscope 2003 page at to discover what's in store for you. To read and evaluate Wu's predictions for 2002 and 2001, click on the Return To Home Page link at the bottom of the page and look under Features.

If you don't know what your sign is, visit Master Rao's Chinese Horoscope at and use the automatic calculator. Click on the links to learn more about the fundamentals of Chinese astrology and take a look at your daily and weekly horoscope, as well as your compatibility with other signs. Most of the articles on this site may be accessed for free, but a few of the more complex readings require payment. What's fun is that there are two more sections discussing Western Astrology and Tarot card reading so you can compare divination strategies.

For those who have some knowledge of the principles of Chinese divination, The Chinese Fortune Calendar at is a really big site with lots of different articles and tools that will help you determine your horoscope for 2003, what names will give a new baby good luck, what dates are auspicious for you and what challenges you can expect to face over the next 10 years.

This site is interesting but some of the sections require quite a bit of background reading.

* Chinese Food

Chinese New Year is a time for feasting. Little Ma's Chinese Recipe Corner from China Vista at offers dozens of recipes for vegetarian, medicinal, traditional and luxury dishes from various Chinese regions. Look to the left margin for links to articles describing basic Chinese cooking techniques, the importance of the tea ceremony and other foody matters.

* Chinese Culture

If you would like to spread your wings and learn more about Chinese culture, the About directory pages at offer a series of articles written by webmaster Jun Shan, as well as resources from all over the Web that discuss Chinese opera, myths and legends, painting, calligraphy, martial arts, customs, history and much more.

For more information search for the keywords: Chinese New Year, Chinese divination, Chinese astrology, Chinese cooking recipes, Chinese culture. Gong Xi Fa Cai!